Perched on a peninsula on the east coast of Uruguay is laid-back La Paloma. A popular summer retreat among South Americans and Europeans alike, the town beckons with its beaches and surfing, free concerts, birdlife and whale watching.
Most visitors to La Paloma head straight to the beach for sunbathing, swimming and surfing. Closest to the town center are La Balconada and Bahía Chica beaches. The clean and calm water of La Balconada is popular with swimmers while at Bahía Chica you can rent kayaks and paddle out to the small island, Isla de la Tuna.
If you are here for the surf then go to Los Botes and Anaconda beaches to discover consistent waves of up to 6.5 feet (2 meters). To the east of town is La Aguada, a long stretch of beach that is ever popular in the summer months and a favored hangout of advanced surfers. You’ll find surf rental shops located along Avenida Solari, La Paloma’s main street, in addition to surf schools offering lessons.
Stroll along Avenida Solari to spot the huge skeleton of a southern right whale. Visit the Coastal Marine Interpretive Center to see another whale skeleton plus information on whales and dolphins. From July through October you can spot migrating southern right whales swim within 650 feet (200 meters) of the coastline. Watch them from the beach in front of the lighthouse or from the observation platform at Costa Azul, an easy 40-minute walk east from town.
Don’t miss out on a visit to Laguna de Rocha, a sprawling lagoon and natural bird habitat. Over 200 bird species make the lagoon their home, including the rare black-necked swan. The lagoon’s southern end is an enjoyable 1-hour walk along the beach from the lighthouse.
La Paloma is accessible by bus from Montevideo and Punta del Este, and Chui in Brazil. Peak season is from January through February, when you can also enjoy free concerts on the beaches and in the many bars and restaurants.